Epinal was founded around 980 by the bishops of Metz along the banks of the River Moselle. The remains of its castle now dominate the town also called Spinal site. Several architectural features of many buildings bear witness to the town’s wealthy and troubled millennial past: the Saint Maurice basilica, for instance, is one of the first evidence of Gothic art in Lorraine, the arcades of Place des Vosges, the beautiful residence of Renaissance style called “Maison du Bailly”, the quartier du Chapitre by the walls, and the church “Notre-Dame au cierge” of contemporary art. Epinal has developed into a cultural and economic hub over the centuries.
Following the aftermaths of the wars in the 17th century and the demolition of the castle by order of Louis XIV ending the conflict between Lorrainers and the kingdom of France, the town recovered with the trade of earthenware and paper and the development of the Imagerie in the 18th century. The famous Images d’Epinal have carried the town’s fame worldwide and are still attracting considerable attention nowadays.
After the defeat of the 1870-71 War and after Alsace was annexed to the kingdom of Prussia, Epinal became a powerful place and a host country to textile manufacturers of Alsace.
The massive destructions that occurred in 1940 and 1944 left their marks on the town until it rebuilt itself to convey this present-day image of a welcoming town planned on a human scale. A town not only thriving on an industrial activity undergoing major change but mostly dedicated to the tertiary sector making it a decision-making core in terms of economy, on the scale of a territory in the heart of Vosges.